Is it complicated to prepare an application to study abroad with the SEP?

Building your application requires time, effort and self-direction. The part of the process involving research on partner institutions’ websites is important in finding the institution best suited for your project, and that takes time. Gathering the required documentation, eventually renewing your passport if need be, and applying for your student visa also requires time and thoroughness if you’re going to avoid forgetting anything and make the deadlines. But you’re not the only one going through this! And according to the vast majority of students who have gone abroad to study, these efforts are really worthwhile!

Does participating in the SEP mean running a risk of having to extend my studies?

In principle, it doesn’t, since the courses you’ve taken abroad will be credited when you return. For this purpose, make sure your academic advisor approves the courses you want to take abroad. And pass them!

To whom and when must our application be submitted?

Once you’ve filled out the participation request form, you must submit your full application file to the person in charge at your home institution.

The deadline for submitting your full BCI application normally falls between the end of January and mid-February. It’s your home institution that sets this deadline and guides you through your application procedures. Get the information from the person in charge of the exchange program at your university and start thinking about your project a year ahead of time.

Can we submit our application file to the host institution ourselves?

No*, the person in charge at the home institution will ensure that applications files are forwarded to the host institutions. A request for participation submitted directly by an applicant will not be considered.

* With the exception of Université Laval. See their additional conditions for participation.

How will host institution selections be honored?

When you fill out the participation request form, you must select the host institutions at which you’d like to participate in an exchange. Rank them in descending order of priority (your first selection will be the one given priority).

Applicants’ first choices will be honored if at all possible, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be approved, given the number of applications and the number of places available at the host institution.

Which of Quebec’s academic institutions are participants in the BCI’s Student Exchange Program?

Eleven of Quebec’s academic institutions participate in the SEP. These are Université Laval, Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, UQAM, UQTR, UQAR, UQO, UQAT, ÉNAP, ÉTS and Bishop’s University. If your institution isn’t included on this list, there are probably other exchange programs or bilateral agreements in place that may allow you to travel to the country and institution you’re interested in. Contact your university for more information.

What are the foreign universities participating in the BCI’s Student Exchange Program?

The full list of foreign SEP partner institutions can be found here.

Is it possible to select universities in other countries?

That depends on the conditions for participation determined by your home institution, so you’ll have to look into that with the person in charge of the SEP at your institution.

What happens if the application is incomplete?

An incomplete application will automatically be rejected.

On the form, which information is optional to provide?

You must provide all information as requested on the form; only the information appearing on a blue background is optional to include.

Need help with the form?

Visit the online help section. If you are enrolled in a Quebec institution the online help section is here. If you are enrolled at a partner institution abroad, the online help section is there. It will also be possible to access by clicking the “?” button found on any page of the form.

When will I hear back about my application?

No specific date can be given. It depends on the university, the program and the period during which you submitted your application. However, you can expect to wait for an average of 6 to 8 weeks following the reception of your application by the university before receiving a response.


How do I obtain a visa?

For students wanting to come study in Quebec, you’ll find all the information about visas and study permits on the CIC Canada website:


For Quebec students wanting to go abroad, you’ll find the information on your host country’s embassy or consulate websites.


How should I finance my study abroad project?

No financial assistance is provided by the BCI to SEP participants but certain programs, which exist independently of the BCI, can grant bursaries to students going abroad. Visit the loans and bursaries section on your home university’s website. Contact the person in charge of the SEP at your home university as well, he’ll be able to provide you with information about different options for financing.

For Quebec students wishing to go abroad, you should know about the Programme de bourses pour de courts séjours d’études universitaires à l’extérieur du Québec (PBCSE) (Bursaries program for short periods of academic studies outside of Quebec).

It may also be advantageous to you to visit the Offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec (LOJIQ) (Quebec international youth offices). This organization provides assistance to students wishing to complete one or two consecutive terms of study abroad. If your project is approved, LOJIQ covers 65% of your international travel expenses up to a maximum amount. For example, for France, the maximum reimbursement is $750. Furthermore, LOJIQ provides general liability insurance coverage up to $2,000,000 for the duration of your project. Additional support is provided to participants from Quebec’s regions. For more information: https://www.lojiq.org/participer/soutien-financier/pour-un-depart-apres-le-1er-avril-2018/

How much does it cost to spend time abroad?

Costs vary according to your destination, contact your host institution for more information.


Is it possible to work part-time while studying abroad?

Generally, no, but that depends on what your student visa allows. Nevertheless, you must mandatorily secure the financial resources necessary to cover your living expenses prior to your departure. For all visa-related questions (study or work):

If you’re a Quebec student, please contact the consulate or the embassy of the country you’re interested in.

If you want to come study in Quebec, this information is available on the following websites:

Is it possible to intern abroad as part of the SEP?

For students coming to study in Quebec, no, the SEP is exclusively devoted to overseeing periods of study (courses).

For Quebec students leaving to study abroad, that depends on your home institution’s policies. (This isn’t possible for the most part, but some universities, such as UQTR, allow internships under certain conditions).

Is it possible for graduate/post-graduate students to do research as part of the SEP?

That depends on your home and host institutions, as well as the credits that can or can’t be obtained for your research activities. The person in charge of your SEP will be able to help you with this.


Do I need a health and hospitalization insurance policy?

Yes. Students admitted to exchange programs must secure a medical insurance policy that will provide them with adequate protection in the event of an accident or illness. In fact, Quebec law makes it compulsory for foreign students to be covered under a medical insurance policy that’s valid in Quebec.

In most cases, a policy must be purchased prior to departure. However, in certain universities, it’s sometimes compulsory for students to sign up for their host university’s insurance plan upon their arrival. Do make sure to obtain all the information you need on this topic from your host university!

Additionally, the government of Quebec has entered into bilateral social security agreements — which include a healthcare component — with the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Romania and Sweden. For more information, visit the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) (Quebec health insurance board).

Foreign students who are not covered under such an agreement must sign up for the Group Health and Hospitalization Insurance Plan for Foreign University Students currently offered by Desjardins Financial Security (except at Bishop’s University). To sign up, students must contact their host university directly (Student Life service, Student Services, or International Relations).

This insurance plan costs $936 for 2018-2019. This amount is subject to change each year.

In regard to health and hospitalization insurance, are there any particular conditions that apply to Quebecers leaving to study in France, on Reunion Island, in Guadeloupe or in Martinique?

Yes. Under the terms of an administrative arrangement that determines the implementation of the Protocole d’entente entre le gouvernement du Québec et le gouvernement de la République française relatif à la protection sociale des étudiants et des participants à la coopération (Agreement on Social Security for Students and Participants in Cooperation Programs between the Gouvernement du Québec and the Government of the French), Quebec students pursuing their studies in France, on Reunion Island, in Guadeloupe or in Martinique as part of student exchange programs may receive sickness and maternity insurance benefits in kind under the French system. They must simply submit the SE 401-Q-104 or SE 401-Q-106 form, duly completed by their home institution and by the Régie de l’assurance-maladie du Québec (RAMQ), to the Caisse primaire d’assurance-maladie (Regional Sickness Insurance Fund Office) serving their place of residence in France or to either of the islands mentioned above. The forms are available on the Régie de l’assurance-maladie du Québec website at the following location : Citizens/Temporary stays outside Quebec/Agreements with other countries/Required forms and documents/Temporary stay in France. 

However, health care services received in France, on Reunion Island, in Guadeloupe or in Martinique aren’t always reimbursed in full. It remains that the student must cover certain fees. If this student, under the terms of a group or personal insurance policy, already has supplemental health insurance protection, asking his insurance provider about the exact type of protection provided would be a good idea. Supplemental protection must cover the excess expenditures that aren’t reimbursed by the French system. Insurance policies covering only the excess expenditures that aren’t reimbursed by the Régie de l’assurance-maladie du Québec may turn out to be unhelpful.

It is therefore up to the student to judge whether obtaining a supplemental insurance policy is necessary. He can do so in Quebec, prior to his departure, or in France, on Reunion Island, in Guadeloupe or in Martinique, through a private insurance company.


Cycles of study

Quebec’s university system comprises three cycles of study. One becomes eligible for the first cycle after 13 years of schooling. The duration of a study program varies according to the chosen discipline and cycle of study, but the following time frames generally apply:

  • 1st cycle: Bachelor’s degree (3 to 4 years) and certificate (1 year)
  • 2nd cycle: Master’s degree (2 years) and 2nd-cycle diploma (1 year)
  • 3rd cycle: Doctorate (3 to 5 years).


The academic year is divided into three terms:

  • The fall term starts in late August or early September and ends in mid-December.
  • The winter term starts in early January and ends in late April.
  • The summer term starts in early May; an intensive term ends in late June and a regular term ends in mid-August.

Not all universities offer summer classes, find out by contacting your host institution. Completing a summer term may be mandatory in certain programs.


A credit is a unit that allows for the assignment of a numerical value to the workload required for a student to attain the objectives specific to a course or other activity.

A course in Quebec’s university system is generally worth three credits representing 45 hours of learning activities (classes, practical assignments, lab work, internships, exams, etc.) as well as individual work, spread out over one term (15 weeks). For research- or internship-related activities, the nature of the work and the workload are established on a case-by-case basis.

The number of credits required to obtain one’s diploma is generally:

  • 90 to 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree
  • 45 to 60 credits for a master’s degree
  • 90 credits for a doctorate
  • 30 credits for a 2nd-cycle diploma or certificate.

A student must be enrolled in a minimum of 9 or 12 credits per term (depending on the cycle of study) in order to be considered full-time. To find out about the number of credits assigned to a particular course or complete study program, simply take a look at the course or program description. Most courses or activities are worth three credits.

For the purpose of comparison with the European system, one credit in Quebec’s university system is worth two credits in the European Credits Transfer System (ECTS).


Is it easy to find housing in Quebec?

All of Quebec’s institutions offer on-campus residences. That being said, not all foreign students are guaranteed a room in university residence, but if you submit your application quickly, that is, as soon as you receive your offer of admission from the university, you increase your chances of finding a room in residence at your university.

Living in an apartment near the campus can be a good idea.

Your host university’s Student Services or International Relations service will be able to direct you to a list of available apartments.

Since it can be difficult to find housing abroad from your home country prior to your departure, we strongly recommend that you book at least temporary accommodations for the first few days of your stay.

Do universities provide support for foreign students?

Of course! At each university, you’ll find support aimed at foreign students (notably, a number of welcome and integration activities) by contacting the Student Life service or the International Relations service.

Additionally, Quebec universities offer a wide range of services to all of their students, and do so in several areas (physical health, psychological counselling, academic and professional orientation, French, housing, etc.), as do student associations, of course.


I’ll be arriving in Quebec via the Montreal airport. Is there a welcome service there?

Yes, every year in August! In collaboration with different organizations, Accueil Plus, a welcome service aimed at foreign students arriving at the Montreal-Trudeau airport, is offered. This airport welcome period is generally held during the last three weeks of August. The exact schedule is announced at the beginning of summer.

What is the Accueil Plus service?

The Accueil Plus service caters to foreign students who arrive at the Montreal-Trudeau airport every August in view of studying at one of Quebec’s colleges or universities. The service is intended to facilitate these students’ arrival at the airport.

For more information about this activity, visit the Accueil Plus website.


I don’t see my institution in the list of Quebec’s partner institutions. Can it become a partner if it isn’t already?

If your institution isn’t on this list, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss a potential partnership. Learn how to become a partner.

How is a BCI Convention membership application evaluated when submitted by an academic institution or association of academic institutions?

Institutions or institution associations wishing to join the Student Exchange Program (SEP) Convention with the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI) must contact us at: echanges-etudiants@bci-qc.ca.

The coordinator will make sure that the application is complete and, if need be, will contact the institution’s representative in order to obtain any missing information.

The Student Exchange Program Member Universities Group will proceed to the evaluation of application files; when this examination is complete, one of the following decisions will be made:

The application for membership is denied:

In this case, the institution or institution association will receive a letter informing it of this decision.

The application for membership is approved:

In this case, the institution or institution association will receive a letter informing it of this decision.

The Convention, a five-year agreement, comes into effect on the date of signature by both parties.

Implementation of the Convention will be ensured by the BCI’s Student Exchange Programs’ coordinator, who will submit two copies of the Convention to the partner, in each language agreed upon by the parties involved, for signature by the head of the institution or institution association. Signed copies will need to be returned to the BCI to be signed by the president of the Student Exchange Program Member Universities Group. A copy of each convention will be sent to the partner institution, and another will be kept at the BCI’s secretariat.